“Agate Lake Academy against Hunter Academy.”
When they finished announcing the match-ups for group one, lower half, everyone in Agate Lake Academy became silent.
Golden Stag Academy finished third the previous year. It was a team Breith Magazine evaluated as a monster-level team.
Hawkmoon was a team ranked tenth last year. People even thought there wasn’t that much of a gap between them and the top eight seeded teams. Breith Magazine ranked it as an outstanding team.
Apart from that, in the same group, there were also Orkmont Academy, Snow Wolf Academy, and, facing Agate Lake in the first match, Hunter Academy. All of them were ranked as strong teams.
This group was the definition of a group of death.
The most important was, even if Agate Lake Academy won the first match, then their next opponent according to the present draw would be the winner between Golden Stag Academy and Snow Wolf Academy.
Snow Wolf Academy was publicly recognized as a strong team, but they shouldn’t be a match for team Golden Stag at peak condition.
That was why, if Agate Lake Academy managed to participate in the second round in the group, their opponent should be team Golden Stag!
When Moss saw such a draw, then saw the downcast expression on the girls in team Agate Lake, he couldn’t sort out what kind of feeling was inside him. He couldn’t stop himself from saying, “I didn’t think we wouldn’t meet them, but you guys actually met them instead.”
“It’s alright.” Sophia was after all a veteran captain who’d weathered storms and waves. She recovered very fast from her gloominess, and comforted all her teammates beside her. “After all, we aren’t an especially formidable team. There are so many outstanding teams in this tournament. Even if we hadn’t met team Golden Stag, maybe we would have met Dragon Breath Academy instead, or Abel Academy, or River Bend Academy. So there’s no need for us to think about how poor the draw is. For us, we only need to think about learning as many things as we can in every match. This way, we’ll become even stronger the next time we come back in this place.”
“That’s right. You just need to be stronger every time. One day, your Agate Lake Academy and our Holy Dawn Academy will become seeded teams others will be afraid of.” Ayrin brandished his fist and encouraged all the girls in Agate Lake Academy.
“Golden Stag Academy, Hawkmoon Academy, this group is really the group of death. Agate Lake Academy drew such a group, and they even fight against a formidable team like Hunter Academy in their first match. It looks like teams from St. Lauren will be routed in the first round.”
Team Mountain Kings was full of schadenfreude again at this time. They looked as if they stumbled on many gold coins.
In all of the sixty-four teams, there were only three teams ranked as weeds, but they actually direct met one. Just this was about the same as stumbling on a lot of gold coin as soon as they left their house. But the most crucial was, the draw for the entire group was extremely lucky.
True, Silver Trout Academy was strong, but after all, they still weren’t a freakish team like Dragon Breath Academy, Abel Academy, Golden Stag Academy, or River Bend Academy. Even most others looking at the group would agree that their Mountain Kings Academy was the strongest after Silver Trout.
There was a very short time period between every match in the national tournament. Looking back at past historical records stretching back many years, only about half the first seeds managed to fight their way out of the groups.
So, if Silver Trout suffered heavy injuries in the previous match, while their team Mountain Kings didn’t suffer too badly, didn’t lose too many important team members, then it was very much possible for their team to eliminate Silver Trout Academy and reach the last eight!
Right now, Silver Trout Academy faced Longtable Academy in their first match. The latter wasn’t a pushover team that could be casually dealt with. In comparison, their own opponent, team Holy Dawn… A weeds-level team that hadn’t reached the nationals for many years already, they should probably be able to do them in just by casually fooling around.
After the drawing ceremony came the explanation of the rules, then reiterating them.
The great majority of teams were in fact frequent guests to the nationals, so these were pretty meaningless for them. But Ayrin actually listened with rapt attention.
To ensure the best viewing, there was only one group fighting every day. Team Holy Dawn was in group three, upper half, so their match officially started three days later.
The proud Stingham kept laughing madly. When they declared the end of the drawing ceremony, when the various teams started to scatter, he proudly said, “How was that. Even the prayer of a handsome man is different, isn’t it? We actually really met team Mountain Kings straight away. I’ll invite everyone to a meal later.”
“That said…” His tone made a sudden turnabout. He looked at Ayrin and said, “Ayrin can’t come. He’s a Giant Eating Monster, I’d be ruined.”
Ayrin didn’t get angry. He only scratched his head, a little embarrassed.
“Ayrin, it doesn’t matter. You can come eat with us since that’s the case. Stingham can invite the others, we’ll eat together.” The Agate Lake girls all gave Stingham a vicious stare. “Didn’t we say just yesterday we’d take you with us for a stroll?”
“Haha, I was joking. Ayrin has to join us.” Stingham’s expression changed all all of a sudden. He grabbed Ayrin’s hand, full of warmth. “When we’re done with the meal, take me with you for the stroll,” he said again, looking at the Agate Lake girls.
“Don’t tell me, are all the dragon-blooded people natural idiots like him, a big head and nothing inside?” Looking at Stingham, Moss and the others were all very speechless. They all felt very ashamed to be in the same team as that guy.
“Let’s go. I know a place with great food. There’s going to be a lot of people right now during the tournament. If we delay, we’ll have to wait for a long while,” Sophia said with a smile.
She was a little worried at heart as soon as she thought about the match-ups to come. Yet, she clearly knew that as a captain, she first of all couldn’t make the entire team feel that they were done for. She had to look relaxed and optimistic.
Stingham crowded beside Sophia and led team Holy Dawn and team Agate Lake away.
“Why do these people all look so pale?”
Outside the arena’s exit, Moss, Ayrin, and company saw a team whose people all had especially pale countenances.
They wore deep-blue clothes. They had a trident-shaped emblem both on their chests and on their backs.
“It’s Sea God Academy.”
Chris looked at those people and merely said a few words. Everyone in team Holy Dawn and team Agate Lake understood immediately
Sea God Academy fought in the inaugural match tomorrow. They were Dragon Breath Academy’s opponent.
Dragon Breath Academy was the champion team from last year. Also, out of the five absolute main force from the past year, there was only one who left due to graduation, and it wasn’t even a key figure like the captain or the vice-captain. According to Breith Magazine, there were powerful freshmen who joined Dragon Breath Academy this year. Compared to the previous year, rather than weaker, they were even stronger.
“It would be one thing if it were a team with ordinary strength, but in the tournament, the two teams with ‘Sea’ in their names are both formidable. Sea God Academy was in the last sixteen last year. They say their captain Joyce is about to graduate, it’s his last time participating in this tournament. They would definitely have gone further if they had been in another group. They surely have a hard time accepting they’re going to meet Dragon Breath Academy in their first match and be eliminated straight away,” Sophia nibbled her lip when she saw these pale-faced people and said in a soft voice, a little sympathetic.
“Both teams with ‘Sea’ in the name are very strong? What’s the other one?” Ayrin couldn’t help but ask.
“The other one is Sea Gale Academy, but many people are used to calling them Sea Monster Academy, because most of their arcane skills come from imitating sea monster abilities. They even have some arcane skills that can directly summon tempests and sea monsters and smash them on their opponent’s head,” Sophia explained. “Last year, Sea Gale Academy lost to Deepwood Motte Academy who ended up finishing fifth. They ranked ninth, but they were previously in the top eight year in and year out.”
“I see now.”
Ayrin nodded. What no one imagined was, he actually made a beeline toward that utterly disappointed-looking group from Sea God academy, then shouted out loud, “Brave warriors of Sea God Academy! Don’t feel sad. Even if you lose tomorrow against Dragon Breath Academy, at least you participated in this tournament. In everybody’s mind, they know you’re a strong team. This means that you already proved yourselves. For tomorrow’s match, no matter victory or defeat, you guys do your best! We’ll cheer for you!”
“Who’s that guy?”
Everyone in team Sea God stared a little blankly. Only after Ayrin left, watching the backs of Ayrin and the others in team Holy Dawn, did one of the members in team Sea God say, “I think it’s the two teams from St. Lauren.”
“Team Holy Dawn and team Agate Lake?” They felt baffled once again.
“They’ve been evaluated as a weeds-level team already, and they even met such a strong team like Mountain Kings, but they’re still comforting us?” Sea God’s captain Joyce let out a slow breath. He also felt that Ayrin’s actions were very strange and ridiculous, but thinking back to Ayrin shouting at them with warm enthusiasm a moment ago, quite a bit of the sadness and frustration in him imperceptibly vanished.
“Really a strange guy…” He looked at Ayrin’s back, a myriad of emotions on his face, strangely enough.
Jungle Tavern was a very distinctive restaurant in Eichemalar.
In the restaurant, all the dishes were cooked according to the taste of some jungle tribes during the era of the War of the Dragons. They pursued the highest peak of food authenticity.
The restaurant already had a history stretching back several hundred years. Some chefs in the restaurant were also orthodox jungle tribe descendants.
It wasn’t time yet for the usual meal time, but Jungle Tavern was already packed with people. Those waiting for their numbers to be called already formed a line.
“These guys are actually still in the mood to feast here?”
Members of team Mountain Kings were right on the street outside. Looking at the dense crowd lining up in front of them, they realized they surely wouldn’t be able to eat in this very distinctive restaurant. What made them even more depressed was, team Holy Dawn that they looked down upon had already arrived much earlier, and they could see them inside the windows eating and drinking to their hearts’ content.